Source: Barcroft Media
These devastating images show what happened when a slumbering whale strayed into the path of a busy shipping lane.
The majestic marine mammal was spotted floating near the surface of the ocean just off the southern tip of Sri Lanka.
A gaping wound around it's midsection shows the horrific point of impact with the bow of the ship - leaving the gentle giant's tail fin in tatters.
Marine experts believe the blue whale – an endangered species, with as few as 5,000 left in the wild - had been struck by a container vessel in the Indian Ocean.
Scroll down for more images of the tragic collision
The tragic pictures were captured by diver Tony Wu, who wanted to highlight the blue whale’s desperate plight in a bid to reduce devastating ship strikes.
He said: “The whale was collateral damage. It made me incredibly sad to see it in such a state.
“The animal looked like it had been struck by a ship during the night as it rested at the ocean surface.
“To us, whales are huge. But even then, compared to a fully loaded ship, it would stand practically no chance of surviving a direct hit.
“It is a big, big problem, especially when endangered species like the blue whale are caught in their path and killed."
The point of impact where the whale was struck
Unofficial figures show thousands of whales – many critically endangered species – have been killed by container ships.
And experts believe many more cases go unrecorded simply because ships don’t even notice they have hit anything.
Tony added: “When a big ship hits a whale, the impact wouldn't register. It's like a tractor-trailer hitting a butterfly – you would feel nothing.
“There are very active shipping lanes just south of Sri Lanka. Here huge ships travel at high speeds day and night. It is constant.
“They are ferrying consumer goods and supplies between major ports and could be hitting many more whales than we know about.
“It's not clear how big the problem is because there could be so many unrecorded cases.
“The only statement that can be made is that ship strikes are a serious problem, and the number of whales killed by ships is far higher than most people probably understand.”
Whales sleep on the surface of the ocean
Tony, who runs snorkelling tours to see marine life, added: “A few days after I got back to Japan, there was a humpback whale that was killed by a boat there.
“One of the toughest issues is that In the case of ship strikes there's no immediate villain, which makes it more difficult to get people worked up about it.
“But in truth, when you look to the bottom line, it is consumers that are responsible.
“Most of the goods being transported when whales are hit are either consumer goods such as appliances, cars, and electronic goods.
“The problem needs to be looked into most definitely.”
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